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Harmony invited me over for dinner last night.

Actually, the exact wording was, “My big sister is coming over. If you’re not there to stop me going to jail for making myself an only child, I’ll throw you off your own fucking fire escape.”


Jonathon doesn’t do family gatherings.   Can’t even recall the last time I sat at a dinner table with anyone whose relationships were only metaphorical blood ties.   Harmony had regaled a little family history on previous occasions, and under sufferance.   I can see why.   Her dad sat at the head of the table and looked like he wished he was under it, anytime his eldest child deigned to look at him.   He has thinning hair, and quick eyes, and is almost as terrified of his grandchild as he is of her mother.

Her brother-in-law Nikolas was trying really hard to play happy families, and talked jovially of his new house renovations (that he was paying lots of other people to do), the game he took little Caleb to on the weekend (“Corporate box, Jonathon. Only way to go…”), and his latest business deals (during which his own wife yawned openly…)

Caleb fidgetted, whined, and complained he wasn’t hungry.   In that, he and I were in empathy.   Pasta is hardly part of my preferred diet.   Like Caleb and to appease Harmony, I stirred it around on my plate a lot to try and make it look like I’d eaten more than I had.

And Caroline?   Harmony’s sister Caroline is a fucking behemoth.   Monstrously pregnant and resplendant in designer maternity clothes, she rules the room, the conversation and the world.   She reminded her father (mid-dessert) that gambling was an addiction and he owed it to her to stop making Harmony ask her for money, because it just wasn’t going to happen.   He said uncertainly, “Yes, yes.   Good – good.”   She asked Harmony if she’d improved her grades.   Harmony said politely, “Caleb – just leave it then, and go watch tv.   Caroline – fuck off.”   In revenge, she then asked if I was Harmony’s boyfriend.   I said, “No.   She’s still gay, and anyway, I find long-term relationships only end in bloodshed.   Don’t you?”

Harmony brought up the school gossip to stave off Caroline’s malice for a moment, and told the Brix story.

Nikolas remarked pleasantly, “How horrible”, and passed the water jug and promptly forgot what we were talking about.   Caroline looked carefully for her store of manufactured social-sympathy, found a small sliver of it, and asked how the poor boy was going.

I answered mechanically, balancing a two-pronged cake fork across my finger.

“Straight into emergency surgery for severe internal injuries – unconscious ever since.   They’re still not sure he’ll make it.   In intensive care – shared ward, under observation, family visits only at the moment.”

She looked intently at me for a moment, and the little familiar flash of insight in the gaze reminded me that she and Harmony are in fact siblings…

Then Caroline, rubbing a hand across her sleek and swollen belly, said – carefully – “You and this Brix boy are close, then?”

I inserted the fork gently down into the leftover slab of cheesecake on my plate.   It left delicate little puncture marks.

“Oh – nah.   Just keeping a friendly eye, you know.”





  1. Friendly eye… as friendly as a farmer on his sick lamb. To-be-dinner lamb.

  2. dinner invitation…….in fiction such as painful like in reality ; )

  3. “long term relationships only end in bloodshed..”
    that fairly sums up the fate of humanity, yes?
    Fucking brilliant. As always.

  4. I like the allusion to vampire fiction you make here, “I inserted the fork gently down into the leftover slab of cheesecake on my plate. It left delicate little puncture marks.” Very nicely done.

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